Biblical and Theological Studies | CBE International

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Biblical and Theological Studies

We conclude our conversation on “Identity in Creation and Christ,” by considering how the apostle Paul addressed Christian identity, and how that identity relates to gender. If you’d like to read parts the last three weeks visit Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. As in the ministry of Jesus, women advanced the gospel by ministering beside Paul, building the church as teachers, evangelists, prophets and as an apostle—Junia. Paul offers the theological foundations for the shared authority of women with all of its spiritual and social implications, throughout his epistles. He summarizes identity and purpose in Galatians 3:27–29. Here Paul says: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, the... Read more
For the past two weeks, we have considered the biblical basis for identity and purpose, which, for humans, is inseparable from being created in God’s image. What is more, Scripture emphasizes the significance of the male and female union in caring for Eden. A perfect world is one in which Eve provides a strong rescue to Adam, whose solitude was the only “not good” in a perfect world. God created woman as ezer, or strong help, and together they shared dominion and authority as God’s representatives. The first week, we covered the implications of ezer more deeply, and last week we saw specific examples of women in the Old Testament who were ezers—strong rescuers. Now we’ll turn to the New Testament and see how Jesus welcomed women as... Read more
In considering the early chapters of Genesis last week, we observed how human identity is inseparable from being created in God’s image as male and female. What is more, our identity—as created in God’s image—shapes our purpose. For this reason, both Adam and Eve share authority in caring for the world and each otherbecause both are created in God’s image. Yet Eve is not only created in God’s image, God also made her an ezer, or “strong help.” Adam’s aloneness—the only "not good" in Eden—is overcome only with the creation of Eve, which emphasizes her essential contribution in sharing authority and working beside Adam. Despite sin and patriarchy—consequences of the fall—women continue to l... Read more
If you want to understand gender and identity from a biblical perspective, the early chapters of Genesis are an excellent place to begin. Here, we observe that a perfect world must include male and female; both are needed to serve and lead as God’s representatives. That is why Adam’s aloneness is the only “not good” in a perfect world. It is God who views Adam without Eve as the first and only deficiency of Eden—a world without sin. Addressing this problem, God creates a partner for Adam, a woman whom God introduces as a “strong helper,” or ezer (in Hebrew), a term that means, “to rescue” and “to be strong.” Used 21 times in the Old Testament, ezer is most often used for “God's rescue... Read more
"…and many other women" Luke 8:1-3 reads as follows: “Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources” (NRSV). This text gives us a snapshot of a typical group of Jesus’s companions. These companions included men (The Twelve), women (Mary, Joanna, Susanna), and “many others.” Presented with essentially any English translation, the reader cannot readily tell whether these “many ot... Read more
Have you revisited Mary and Martha lately (Luke 10:38–42)? You remember their house where Martha is “over busy” making preparations for Jesus’ arrival, and Mary ignores the obvious need to help her sister, preferring to listen at the feet of Jesus. In desperation, Martha appeals to Jesus, the male authority in the house, to get her sister’s priorities in line with the cultural expectations for women. Martha appears to be reprimanded by Jesus while Mary is vindicated. Many times, this story is interpreted as presenting one sister upheld at the expense of the other, preferring women who do not complain. Mary and Martha’s story has traditionally been interpreted to honor Mary’s listening over Martha’s service. However, could the sisters have... Read more
Margaret Mowczko
Some Christians in westernised countries seem to long for an earlier time when most women stayed out of the workforce and stayed at home.  Some of these Christians even believe that the Bible teaches that the woman’s primary domain is private, in the home, caring for her husband and children – the presumption being that most women will marry and have children.  They also believe that the man’s primary domain is public, outside of the home – working for money.  The only time the Bible mentions that women should stay at home, however, is in two instructions regarding young women.  In this article I look especially at Paul’s instructions in Titus 2:4-5. The Basics In his letter to Titus (who was temporarily stationed in Cr... Read more
I believe that (most) complementarians should be pacifists.* Consider the following passages: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:11-15, NIV) And: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is... Read more
I recently had the privilege of spending several days in Rome. Among many important sites, the most interesting to me was the ruins of Rome’s ancient harbor city, Ostia (you can take a virtual visit here: One standard feature of Greco-Roman cities which is plainly visible at Ostia is the domus, the home of an upper-class household (Gordon Fee has a helpful description of such households in Priscilla Papers, see When we read about house churches in Paul’s letters, “church” = the worshippers and “house” = the domus. It was by design that Paul guided congregations to meet in a domus. One part of this design was to bring toge... Read more
When I attended Bible college in the 1970s, most of my teachers were former pastors. That meant much of their teaching was based on their seminary notes, illustrated by their own pastoral experience. One teacher in particular enjoyed puns based on proper names. Once he referred to two characters in Philippians 4:2, Euodia and Syntyche, as “Odious” and “Stinky” because their fighting and gossiping was a threat to their church. He was reading the biblical text with blinders on. Much as physical blinders on a horse limit their range of vision, so metaphorical blinders can limit our ability to see what the text in its fullness. We can be blinded by our preconceptions and biases, by what we expect the text must say, so that we fail to see what the text truly says.... Read more